Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness across the globe.
They affect people of all races and ethnicities and occur in men and women equally.
To give you a glimpse of how universal cataracts are, here are some interesting figures:
- In 2002, the World Health Organization estimated that cataracts cause reversible blindness in a staggering 17 million people. This number is projected to reach 40 million by year 2020!
- In the United States, more than 20 million Americans over the age of 40 are affected by cataracts.
How Do I Know If I Have Cataracts?
Classic symptoms of cataract include vision that is blurry, cloudy, or foggy. You may also notice a film over your line of sight that prevents clear vision. Colors are often less vivid and may appear washed out. One of the most debilitating aspects of early cataract formation is its effect on driving. Cataracts can cause severe glare from oncoming headlights which can make night driving very dangerous. They can also cause a refractive shift (nearsightedness or farsightedness) which makes viewing signs, traffic, and turns in the road more difficult.
Cataracts typically start out very small and often progress slowly. Partly because of this, they often go undiagnosed for years until they begin to impair functions of daily living.
What Can I Do About My Cataracts?
Removal or “extraction” of the cataract is the only effective treatment. Luckily, advances in surgical equipment and technique have rendered cataract extraction one of the safest procedures in the world today. Ultrasound and laser technology have been mastered to painlessly and effectively remove cataracts and restore patient’s vision. Many patients are able to achieve 20/20 vision or better after cataract surgery and resume the activities they have neglected because of worsening vision. Facilitating this improvement in quality of life is one of the most gratifying aspects of the procedure and my job in general.
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means that there are no overnight stays in a hospital. Patients arrive the morning of the procedure and go home afterwards to spend the rest of the day in the leisure of their own home.
For more on the details of cataract surgery and different options, please visit the section on Cataract Removal. This section provides some basic information on technique and different options for the procedure.